iPad Pro mini latest rumours – release date, price, features, specs
The iPad mini 5 is overdue. It’s been nearly two years since the iPad mini 4 was unveiled in September 2015 (with significant design changes, updated specs and new features that make it still one of the best 8in tablets around), and we can’t help but wonder what’s next for the range. Will 2017’s iPad mini 5 see another major overhaul, or will it be a damp squib like the mini 3? Could it even be an iPad Pro mini?
With this in mind, we’ve gathered all of the iPad mini 5 rumours, hints, clues and other evidence in one place. Read on to explore the evidence to suggest that a new iPad mini is coming soon, and new features and specs to expect when it arrives. Read next: iPad buying guide 2017 and Best iPad deals UK
UK release date
We expect the new iPad mini 5 (or iPad Pro mini) no sooner than the autumn of 2017 – if at all.
In January DigiTimes reported that the new iPad mini wouldn’t enter mass production until early 2017, which itself would point to a June 2017 or later announcement. But Apple has already done two separate iPad launches so far this year: the quiet iPad 9.7in (2017) release in March, and the bigger iPad Pro 10.5in (2017) and iPad Pro 12.9in (2017) announcement at WWDC 2017 in June.
While we thought we’d see a new iPad mini during at least one of these events, there was no mention of a new small iPad. The only iPad mini news so far in 2017 has been that the iPad mini 4 is now only available in one configuration – 128GB.
The iPad mini 4 was released in September 2015, when Apple hosted a press event to show off the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus, the iPad Pro and the new Apple TV as well as the new iPad mini. An autumn launch was expected: the original iPad mini, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 were all launched at October events.
With most iOS device launches, the product itself doesn’t arrive in shops for a little over a week after the unveiling, but Apple managed to take the wraps off the iPad mini 4 and announce its retail launch at the same time. As for the UK release date, that’s likely to be the same date as the primary launch in the US. That’s what happened with the mini 4, at any rate.
Will the iPad mini be killed off?
Some analyst reports suggest that instead Apple may be phasing the mini out of its lineup.
Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a report in January 2017 suggesting that Apple would announce three new iPads in March 2017: a 12.9-inch successor to the iPad Pro, a new 10.5-inch “high-end model,” and a 9.7-inch “low-priced option”.
Kuo didn’t predict the release of any new iPad mini models, but did note that there would be a rise in the average selling price of iPads thanks to “decreasing exposure to iPad mini”.
(Sure enough, the second-generation iPad Pro 12.9 and brand-new 10.5in iPad were revealed at WWDC 2017.)
Kuo’s theory is also backed up by a recent report from BGR citing a source close to Apple that claims the company is phasing out the iPad mini line completely. What BGR’s source couldn’t confirm was when the line will be discontinued or how much longer the iPad mini 4 will be available for.
Design: What will the iPad Pro mini look like?
The iPad mini 4 has plenty to recommend it, but in broad design terms it’s actually pretty close to the very first iPad mini; it’s been slimmed down and had various features added, but the two devices look largely the same. Can we expect a more radical redesign this time around – something like the jump from rounded-corner iPhone 3GS to sharper-edged iPhone 4?
It’s possible, but we haven’t yet heard anything to back up the theory that Apple is tearing up its old design manuals and starting from scratch. Early hints suggest that, as before, we could be looking at a conservative redesign and gentle improvements.
So far, speculation suggests that the iPad mini 5 will be even thinner than its predecessor (which is already an incredible 6.1mm), at just 5mm. It’s certainly possible – the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablets are already 5.6mm thick, but we’re not sure it’s entirely necessary.
7000-series aluminium chassis
The iPad mini 5 could also have a different chassis, this time made with 7000-series aluminium like the iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 handsets to make it more durable, particularly if it is indeed thinner to help prevent the tablet from bending.
While we’re a little sceptical about the iPad mini 5 having a flexible or possibly even foldable display, recent patents suggest that Apple has been working on the technology for the iPhone for a number of years. The technology would arguably be more important on an iPad, allowing users to ‘fold up’ the large screen of the iPad and put it in their pocket when not in use.